Flu season is upon us in Webster Parish.
Multiple cases of the flu are already being snuffed out, Dr. Michael Ulich of Minden Pediatrics said. Ulich, who has practiced in Minden for the past 11 years, said he’s already seen 4-5 cases of the flu, adding that this is the first time in those 11 years that he’s seen the flu in September.
“The flu season usually runs from October to March or April,” Ulich said. “We’ve actually seen a spike in flu, and this is the first time we’ve seen it this early. The flu is one of the most preventable viruses that people can get, and everyone should get the flu vaccine every year.”
In the past, doctors had recommended the flu shot only be administered to the very young and the sick, or disabled, but that school of thought has changed.
“There are not too many contraindications to flu vaccines,” Ulich said. “It’s recommended for ages six months all the way to over 65 years of age.”
Each year, the flu vaccine is based on the trends, such as how the virus spreads throughout the world and how the virus changes year-to-year. Throughout the vaccine’s history, there have always been skeptics who believed the vaccine either didn’t work or, even worse, gave them the flu itself. Ulich says that is simply not the case.
“Do we know that the flu vaccine will work 100 percent? Not necessarily,” Ulich said. “But, it does give you a solid measure of protection, especially for the young and the sick. People always say they got the flu vaccine and it gave them the flu, and there are some symptoms that come with the vaccine, but it is not the flu. When you come and get your flu shot, that protection doesn’t begin for two weeks. Most likely, if you got the flu, it was when you were in the doctor’s office inside that two week period.”
Ulich is urging parents to vaccinate their children, even infants who parents may feel are not at risk because of limited exposure to the public.
“That child may not leave the house much, but you may go to Wal-Mart or have another child who is 7, 8 12 years of age, and they bring home some flu-like symptoms. The younger the child, the more likely to have complications; 100,000 people die annually from complications to the flu.”
Ulich also said that children under 8 years of age who have never had their flu shot need two flu shots in the same season. Among the 4-5 cases of flu Ulich has seen, two were children in Minden, one child was from Claiborne Parish and the last was from Springhill.
The early arrival could be a signal of an unusually bad flu season. Ulich said the time to take preventative measures is now.
“People start thinking about the flu shot when they hear about a lot of people getting the flu,” Ulich said. “At that point, it might be a little too late, especially if the season is going to peek early this year.”
Those without insurance can receive their flu shot from the Webster-Minden Health Unit on Homer Road, and children of the required ages can receive their shots from any local pharmacy or Wal-Mart.